The Concept Electronics Show (Daring Fireball)

Concepts allow designers to ignore real-world constraints: engineering, pricing, manufacturing, legal regulations, sometimes even physics. But dealing with real-world constraints is the hard work of true design.

Bohn’s main point here is spot-on — there’s something wrong with a show where none of the most exciting announcements are for actual products coming to market soon. But I disagree that it’s about “confidence”. It’s that all of these companies are bad at designing actual products. It is highly instructive that the one company best known for shipping genuinely exciting, groundbreaking products never shows concept designs.2 Concept designs (and worse, concept videos) are a sign of dysfunction and incompetence at a company. It’s playing make-believe while fooling yourself and your audience into thinking you’re doing something real. Concepts allow designers to ignore real-world constraints: engineering, pricing, manufacturing, legal regulations, sometimes even physics. But dealing with real-world constraints is the hard work of true design. Concepts don’t stem from a lack of confidence. They stem from a dereliction of the actual duties of design.

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